Explore ancient waterways and hike through scenic forests in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
Sandwiched between Oregon and British Columbia on the Pacific Ocean, Washington state has long been celebrated for its pristine waterways, old-growth forests, soothing hot springs, and epic mountain lakes and peaks. The northwestern-most state in the contiguous 48 is home to three national parks—North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, and Mount Rainier National Park—along with miles and miles of beautiful coastline and lush temperate islands. While there are abundant opportunities for outdoor exploration in the aptly nicknamed Evergreen State, there’s also plenty for those looking for a bit of indoor appeal, from fine arts and culture museums to fantastic wineries.
Stradling the Puget Sound, this region includes Washington's biggest city--Seattle--and the area around it. While urban adventure takes center stage in this populated region, there are also plenty of spots to commune with nature, and even if you're based in Seattle, you'll have easy access to numerous Washington state parks.
The Washington Coast and Islands
If you want gorgeous Pacific Coast scenery, ancient forests, and whale watching to feature in your next camping trip, the Washington Coast, the Olympic Peninsula, and the state's many islands are just the ticket. Here you’ll find Olympic National Forest and its ancient Hoh Rainforest, plus plenty of small Coastal towns, such as charming Port Angeles and Port Townsend.
This remote section of the state is characterized by old-growth forests, alpine lakes, and ancient glaciers. It’s also the site of North Cascades National Park, an enormous expanse of wilderness that offers mile upon mile of hiking trails and excellent campground and backcountry options for campers.
Central and Eastern Washington
With a mix of towering mountains, pristine forests, arid prairies, and plenty of cute small towns, Washington's central and eastern stretches offer some of the best camping and outdoor recreation areas in the state. Washington's second-largest city, Spokane, is located in the region, as is the Bavaria-inspired town of Leavenworth, full of German restaurants, beer gardens, and plenty of faux-world kitsch in this region.
The southern part of the state is known for beautiful scenery, snow-capped peaks, and excellent wine. On the Oregon border, the Columbia River Gorge is full of beautiful spots for hikers--come in the spring and you'll be rewarded with spectacular flurries of wildflowers. The region also boasts a few world-class wineries of its own, with more to be found further north and east in Walla Walla and Yakima. The area is also home to Mount Adams, Mount Rainier and its surrounding national park, and Mount Saint Helens, which famously erupted back in 1980.